October 14th, 2002

This one go bouncy bouncy (or "more fun with things that fly")

This weekend marypcb and I paid a (literally) flying visit to my home island of Jersey, seeing as it's my mother's 65 birthday tomorrow. Unfortunately, the journey seemed to be affected by a travel jinx...

Things didn't start too well.

The promised RJ-100 or 737-500 (the reason BA moved the Jersey flights from Gatwick South to Gatwick North) miraculously turned into a bumbling ATR-72 turboprop. This droned over the south of England, making reasonable time on a pleasant sunny Saturday afternoon. We got a lovely view of the north of the island as we banked into a gentle approach to the airport. That was until, about a mile or so from the runway threshold, the pilot throttled up and pulled away from the airport, aborting his landing. As we circled, we learnt that a light plane that was in front of ours in the circuit had landed hard, bursting a tire.

It took a good few spins around the island's stack over Gorey, eating into the ATR's 35 minutes of loiter, before the runway was cleared and we were able to land.

The weather changed on Saturday night. Instead of the sun and light cloud, it was blowing up a severe gale, and the wind was swinging dramatically from east to west, while gusting at up to 65 miles an hour. Not really the best conditions for an airport on a small island. Especially when said island is shaped like a tabletop, and there's nothing between it and Canada - apart from 3000 miles of Atlantic Ocean (ideal breeding conditions for autumn gales).

We checked in as normal, to be told our flight was delayed and the previous flight had been cancelled as the operating aircraft had had to abort its approach due to cross winds. Every few minutes, our delay was increased, as the aircraft still hadn't left Gatwick. Finally we got word - the plane was on its way. We watched as a batch of BE planes made it down, and another batch headed off out. The wind had died down a bit, and had settled into blowing straight down the runway.

Eventually we watched a set of lights slowly drift down out of the sky, and a brand new 737-500 touched down. Its passengers disembarked, and we were called aboard. The take off was fast and steep, climbing dramatically into the wind and clouds, aiming to get above the gusts as quickly as possible. The journey to Gatwick was fairly bouncy, but not too bad, considering the weather conditions. The landing was a little on the rough side, but I've had worse.

Finally we got home, nearly 3 hours late.

And you know what? I couldn't find a parking place.
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